Early auto exotica is coming to Harrogate

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A hugely rare and valuable Porsche 356 Speedster is on its way from South Africa to a new home in Harrogate.

The 356, based on Volkswagen’s Beetle, was Porsche’s first true production vehicle.

Less than 4,000 examples were built, but town businessman Jason Shaw located an example in Johannesburg, flew over to make sure it was the real deal, and is shipping the car over this month.

The car has been raced in South Africa, and so will spend six months in a London garage being restored to ensure it meets the UK’s road-going criteria.

Jason said he is planning to use the car when it makes its way north, rather than wrapping it in cotton wool in his garage.

He said: “I had been looking for a 356 for about seven years before I located this one.

“It is a very rare car. Less than 4,000 were built, and only about 50 were available in right-hand-drive.

“These were mainly for the South African and Australian markets.

“The climate keeps the cars going well over there, compared to what they have to go through here.

“Three were brought to the UK, they certainly wouldn’t be in as good condition.”

The total value of the car after its refurb is expected to soar to £400,000.

Jason said: “It will be refurbished to how it looked in the showroom.

“It has been raced, but as long as the chassis number and engine block are original, that is what makes them valuable.

“People like Chris Evans have made collecting cars fashionable again, the classic car market is huge at the moment.”

Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche drew his initial design on page 356 of his design book.

Ferry’s father Ferdinand designed the original Volkswagen Beetle, to which the 356 owed much of its architecture.

James Dean owned a 356 before switching to the 550 Spyder in which he died.

It was the company’s first production car, and was, in line with the modern-day Porsche 911, rear-wheel drive.

It was Ferry’s son, Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, who designed the original 911, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.